The prospect of a digital railway in the UK promises quicker journey times, greater capacity, slicker timetabling, better cost efficiency and improved operational safety, all enabled and controlled using seamlessly integrated digital technology.
Overarching this, however, is the need for operational resilience. This depends more critically on the engineering of the rail network’s ‘hardware’ – that is, its track, train and railside assets.
Especially as it prepares for HS2 and high-speed trains, the rail environment requires engineering at the upper extremes of modern performance to provide the strength and longevity to minimise the need for maintenance or replacement.
Network reliability is a function of the physical integrity of all assets. This goes from trains and carriages, through tunnel, track, gantry and crossing construction, to cabinets, location apparatus cases (LOCs) and relocatable equipment buildings (REBs) protecting electrical instrumentation, telecoms, data and power services. Any weak link will undermine the whole. To highlight, vandalism of unmanned relay rooms or LOCs housing vital cables or power can be as disruptive to passenger services as a train breakdown.
So what should be the considerations when selecting LOCs, REBs, access covers and signal centre doors that measure up to the needs of a resilient rail network?
In addition to PADS certification, third-party-tested and certified security products will provide long-term benefits.
Approval to a robust security marque like LPCB (Loss Prevention Certification Board) provides an all-important assurance of physical performance. Products are tested to the rigorous LPS 1175 security standard and classed according to their physical resistance to different levels of assault tools and duration of attack. LPCB provides a hierarchy of security ratings allowing specifiers to select solutions appropriate for the assessed risk of vandalism, theft, sabotage or criminal attack.
But LPCB is not just a reassuring marque of security for standard products, like doors and LOCs. It also offers vital scope for differentiation and adding value, depending on the material used and its design flexibility within LPCB’s performance parameters.
LPCB manufacturers using high-specification structural steel offer the greatest potential for specialisation, together with long-term physical integrity against criminal attack and the increasing wear and tear of the rail corridor.
As a leader in LPCB certified steel products, Technocover continues to push the performance envelope for cabinets, modular buildings, doors, access covers, cages, louvre vents and window bars.
A significant degree of equipment customisation can be met by steel manufacturers, like Technocover, that have developed a wide choice of LPCB options, accessories and size permutations. These allow ready adaptation to improve operational efficiency and health and safety, such as easy lift access cover lids, sloped cabinet roofs to shed water, or security inspection vision panes in doors.
The high-security door
Increasingly, the upgrading of access security to station buildings, plant rooms and material stores, new-build or retrofit, is demanding greater functionality and flexibility from the high security door.
Exploiting the structural versatility of steel, Technocover’s Sentinel doors can be comprehensively adapted using standard options to meet detailed needs, while maintaining the appropriate LPCB Security Rating (SR) – typically SR 2, 3 or 4 for rail.
Doors can provide specific functionality, according to the interior activities of a building. For example, a plant room may need a double door unit for routine access, but incorporate removable header bars and blanking plates to maximise access for equipment removal. Other applications might need a vision panel to allow a quick visual check by personnel, or louvre vents to help disperse heat build-up from equipment.
Also critical, Technocover doors will accept the client’s specific LPCB-certified entry and exit control locking and access technology (padlock, key, fob, swipe), and any link required with the alarm system.
Where larger, more specialised security installations are concerned, the manufacturer’s expertise and product scope within LPCB certification will come into play.
In its 25 years, Technocover has developed a detailed understanding of how cabinets, doors and enclosures can be engineered for out-of-the-ordinary applications while remaining within the parameters of LPCB performance.
Special solutions are often required to ‘harden’ existing assets, demanding unusual shapes or aesthetic features to blend with heritage architecture. They can range from security doors with an arched head and special colour finish to harmonise with a historic building, to a large, irregular-shaped LPCB-approved mesh enclosure to reinforce the security of an installation.
Increasingly, rail assets outside of CCTV catchment and remote from the rail track will require hardening, often for the purposes of ensuring public health and safety – such as an LPCB security access hatch for a tunnel ventilation shaft. The rail project may also need to borrow a solution specialised from another infrastructure sector. For example, Technocover has supplied LPCB-approved upstand covers, as used in the utility industries, to secure observation boreholes for water table level monitoring connected with pre-construction work for HS2.
Early consultation is crucial if whole-life functionality, long term cost-savings and right-first-time installation are to be guaranteed.
Detailed discussion by supply partners of logistics, work programming and on-going operational considerations will benefit short and longer-term outcomes. This applies whether planning the upgrading of security gates within a storage zone, or a complex staging with LOCs and REBs on an embankment. Early collaboration provides total project visibility as the basis to value engineer, ‘design out’ potential installation issues, and ‘design in’ functionality for best return on investment.
Technocover is adding value to the delivery of security equipment by offering offsite construction and crane-in solutions, especially for REBs and modular buildings. Where site access is constrained and/or possession limited, these can be assembled and even fully fitted with M&E services for quick and simple lifting into position.
Steel offers important advantages when it comes to system durability. An all-steel solution will perform consistently in terms of system longevity. With the benefit of a higher grade of structural steel and heavier weight of post-galvanised zinc finish, Technocover can demonstrate a service life of over 20 years for its TechnoRail product range.
This extra margin of engineering resilience becomes ever more important as trackside structures bear the brunt of aggravated weathering from storm events and atmospheric corrosivity, as well as increased turbulence from greater traffic volumes and high speed trains.
The metallurgically bonded protection of zinc galvanising on steel provides the most predictable and efficient of corrosion-proofing systems. Additionally, consistent protection can be achieved however complex the steel fabrication becomes. This underpins a maintenance-free product and extends the time to replacement, for better cost forecasting and, of course, cost savings.
For an industry in a state of technological flux as it fully embraces digital, LPCB specialists offer the potential to quickly adapt security solutions within the envelope of an already-trusted performance standard.
With rail’s current focus on infrastructure efficiency and reliability, LPCB solutions in post-galvanised steel can provide an all-important edge in adaptability and longer service life. Michael Miles is a director of infrastructure protection specialist Technocover.
This article was written by Michael Miles, director of infrastructure protection specialist Technocover.
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